The translation of legal documents needs specialist care and attention. These are the documents that make up the backbone of how our lives and our businesses operate. A wide variety of documents fall into this category, and translating them needs to be done by a translator with experience in the legal industry.
At LinguaLinx, we’ve worked with many clients who have struggled to understand elements of legal documents in their own language, so we understand the trepidation people have when trying to read one that’s been translated from a foreign language. Or that feeling of crossing your fingers and hoping that a key business document will be accurately translated so you can move into a new market.
Well, you should never have to cross your fingers. With the right Language Services Provider (LSP), you should be in safe hands. They’ll have a roster of legal specialists and sub-specialists to ensure your documents are translated accurately and authentically.
Here’s a list of the most frequently translated legal documents.
These are signed under oath as an official statement of fact. They hold up as evidence in legal proceedings.
Because they are recalled accounts from real people, and not carefully constructed contracts, their translation needs to reflect the facts and tone of what is being said.
2. Bank Documents
Any banking document, such as statements, account-opening paperwork, proof of identity, proof of work, credit, or personal history, often requires translation.
People may be applying for mortgages, immigration, or other important events. Therefore, the translation needs to match the level of detail the international banking system adheres to.
3. Birth, Marriage, and Death Certificates
Certified translation of these identity documents can only be done by a professional translator or LSP.
Often, they come with a signed and dated certificate from whoever is doing the translation with details of their qualifications.
4. Contracts and Terms & Conditions
Contracts are legally binding documents between two parties. Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) outline the contractual relationship between a service provider and a user.
Lawyers who translate these documents need to understand the legalities of the documents and the nuances of the target language to ensure they’re legally binding.
5. Court Documents
These can be motions, briefs, testimony, or any other document filed for a case before the courts.
It’s worth checking if the legal system of the target language country has any of its own requirements for the delivery or presentation of the material that you need to adhere to.
It’s an understatement to say that legal systems vary significantly worldwide.
6. Government Records
Government records, by their definition, not only deal with legal issues but political ones too. These can be sensitive and confidential communications/contracts between countries or legal entities/ individuals dealing with government officials.
If translations are confusing in these situations, the consequences could have far-reaching international impact. Accuracy, with attention to political sensitivity and nuance, is crucial.
7. Immigration Documents
Every document that the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) considers must be written in English.
Whether it’s for naturalized citizenship, a marriage green card, or any other element of the immigration process, the translation must be done by qualified professionals and come with a certificate to verify the document’s accuracy.
If the documents fail these requirements, they won’t be considered.
8. Patents and Intellectual Property Documents
Applying for and filing patents can require a host of documentation. This can include specifications, correspondence, and claims.
Intellectual Property (IP) often doesn’t have a patent, but it is a legal entitlement to something that is a “creation of the mind” and may be trademarked or copyrighted such as logos or brand names.
Experience in patent and IP translation is important as the laws vary from country to country.
9. Law and Regulatory Amendments
“There is no ‘official’ language at the federal level for the United States,” according to usa.gov, but “more than 300 languages are spoken or signed by the population.”
English serves as the de facto official language, but laws are often required to be translated into other languages. It’s important that the native language is translated into the right form of the target language.
For example, in California, documents are often translated into not just Spanish, but Mexican Spanish.
While wills don’t have to be translated from their native language to be submitted to probate, it makes life a lot easier when dealing with relevant parties that have multiple first languages.
If something is disputed in a U.S. court, then an English version of that documentation must be made available and translated by a certified translator.
There’s Always An Element Of Transcreation
Transcreation - translating something’s meaning or intent faithfully, instead of having an exact word-for-word translation – is often associated with creative industries like marketing and advertising. But it should be kept in mind with legal translations as well.
Of course, they have to be 100% accurate, but they also have to be contextual. They have to reflect the nuance of what is being said in the native language. This is where the knowledge of the subject and cultures comes into play, an important step beyond just fluency in both the languages.
Get a Quote for the Translation of Your Legal Documentation
If you’re thinking about a translation project, we’d love to sit down and talk with you about it.
With Lingualinx, you won't ever have to worry about your message getting lost as it’s translated. You know you're in good hands with our ISO 17100 compliance, twenty years of professional translation experience, and the organizations whose trust we've earned.
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